Tonight’s episode had a lot to accomplish, and many characters to follow in order to get it done. One might say the overarching theme of the episode was about the mistakes leaders often make, but since many ‘Game of Thrones’ episodes have a similar theme, I’d rather say the episode was more about the hard decisions rulers often have to make that puts them at odds with their subjects.

Jumping in, the story at King’s Landing this week features Cersei showing Jaime a threatening message she received from Dorne, a small statue of a red viper (aka Oberyn Martell’s moniker) clutching a golden necklace in its mouth, the same one Cersei gave Myrcella. She rants about the woes of their children to Jaime, with Joffrey’s death at his own wedding, Myrcella trapped in Dorne, and Tommen about to marry the Highgarden “whore,” and claiming that Jaime was never a father to their children. (to which he justly responds that had been a father to them, they would be despised by the general public due to their incestuous origins). Still, Jaime does want to protect Myrcella, so he decides to head down to Dorne to save her, a task Cersei does not think he is up to. Fortunately, Jaime does not figure on going alone, and he recruits Bronn the former sellsword, who Jaime finds walking along the beach with his new bride-to-be (a talkative gal who clearly is not the right fit for Bronn, despite the appeal of her enormous family wealth). Jaime offers Bronn a deal, come with him to Dorne and when they return he will find Bronn a new fiance, who can offer him an even bigger castle. Bronn reluctantly accepts, and the pair head off to Dorne.

Cersei meanwhile has offered a massive bounty to anyone who brings her Tyrion’s head, and is reviewing one of those heads, which sadly (for her and the dwarf it came from) was not Tyrion. She does not punish the men who brought it to her, claiming there would be many mistakes, and is a little unnerved when Qyburn asks to keep the head for his experiments. Then it’s off to the small council (smaller than ever, really) meeting, where Cersei speaks for King Tommen (who she claims is busy), replacing Varys with Qyburn, not due to his skill but rather his loyalty. She tries to appoint her uncle Kevin Lannister the Master of War, but the man is annoyed at Cersei speaking for Tommen, instead of the boy showing up to his own Small Council meeting, and promptly tells Cersei that he does not recognize her authority, and if the King wishes to ask him for help, he will be at Casterly Rock. Cersei is not having a good season so far. (and spoiler alert, it is going to get worse  for her).

Brienne and Pod have a chance encounter with Littlefinger and Sansa at a pub near the road, and while Brienne attempts to offer her services to Sansa, it’s clear Petyr Baelish will have none of it. Sansa dismisses the offer (though not without a look telling Brienne to flee as Baelish would have her killed). And Brienne and Pod do run, but they are pursued by Littlefinger’s men, who Brienne eventually manages to take down after Pod loses control of his horse. In the aftermath, they decide to follow Sansa and Littlefinger, with Brienne still determined to find a way to help at least one of Lady Catelyn’s daughters.

We also visit Dorne for the first time in this episode, where we see young Myrcella briefly walking through the famed Watergardens, before finding the current leader of Dorne, Doran Martell, who is being accosted by the late Oberyn’s lover for not declaring war on the Lannisters following Oberyn’s death. Ellaria Sand claims she has the support of the Sand Snakes (who we’ll learn later are the daughters of Oberyn), and wants to send Cersei Myrcella’s fingers one by one, before sending the rest of the body. Doran, being a much cooler-headed leader than other’s we’ve seen on the show, reminds Ellaria that they do not slaughter little girls in Dorne, and instead councils patience, which Ellaria does not want to hear. She makes a vague threat about how long Doran thinks he will be sitting on the throne, and leaves the elderly ruler to muse on her words.

In the brief scene we get of Tyrion and Varys, it seems the dwarf has traded his tiny wooden box for a much larger one that he nows shares with Varys as they travel by carriage on the road to Volantis (which apparently is where they will find the road to Mereen). Not much happens besides checking in with the characters, and we see Tyrion’s continued drinking, showing us just how depressed the imp has become, even while trading jabs with Varys about the pointlessness of having pointless conversations.

In Braavos, Arya finally makes it across the sea, and is left at the epic entryway to the titular House of Black and White. A Kindly Man (*wink) at first turns Arya away, claiming there was no Jaqen H’Ghar there. Arya, the stubborn Stark, remains on the front steps for a long time, continuing to recite her list of names of people she was going to kill. Eventually she relents and heads into the main streets of town to forage for food, using her waterdancing skills to nab a pigeon, which attracts the attention of local thugs. She is about to defend herself when the man from the House of Black and White appears behind her, scaring the kids away. She follows him back to the building with the black and white doors, and the man waves his hand in front of his face, revealing himself to be Jaqen. He tells her he did not lie, as a faceless man’s true identity is “no one.” He claims she will have to adopt a similar code, and invites her inside. Arya is well on her way now.

In Mereen, Grey Worm and Daario find a member of the Sons of the Harpy, and bring him, before Daenerys. Before she makes a decision regarding the man, Ser Barristan has a private talk with her regarding the truth of her father, The Mad King. He explains how power corrupted her father, and his justice was meted out despite any trials or say by others, and each time he executed someone he felt more just in his decision making. Daenerys decides to have a trial for the man, which angers many, including Mossador, the former slave member of her council. He kills the man himself, displaying the body for all of Mereen to see, as a warning to those who would oppose Daenerys. Unfortunately for him, Daenerys believes in justice and the law, and that the law applies to all, even her council. With groups of Masters and former slaves all watching, she sadly sentences Mossador to death by beheading, despite the pleas by the man himself and the former slaves in the crowd for mercy. Daario takes his head, the former slaves hiss at Daenerys, and a riot breaks out, with the Unsullied literally shielding Daenerys and her party from the chaos (including many large rocks thrown at the ruler). Later that night, while still in turmoil, the Mother of Dragons sends everyone away, and heads outside to her balcony, where she discovers her prodigal dragon Drogon perched outside. They have a nice moment, where he almost allows her to pet his muzzle, and then Drogon takes off once more, leaving Daenerys puzzling why the dragon appeared in that moment.

And lastly, at the wall, Jon is offered the North by Stannis, who says if Jon joins him and helps him conquer and control the North, Stannis will remove the “Snow” from his name, and turn him into Jon Stark, who will be the ruler of Winterfell. Despite the glory and the fact that Jon always wanted this (though probably while his family was still alive, as far as he knows at this point there are no Starks left alive, save Sansa), Jon turns down the offer, knowing he made an oath to the Night’s Watch. As for his brothers, they are having the election for the new Lord Commander, with everyone fairly certain Ser Alliser Thorne will win, which scares Sam as he knows Thorne will send away Gilly. Therefore, Sam nominates Jon for the position, which is taken really well by many members of the Night’s Watch. They vote, and the election is basically a tie, until Maester Aemon casts his vote, for Jon. And now Jon is the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, with half of the men against his election, with Stannis angry that he did not take the offer, and a massive army of Wildling’s camping not far away, angry about the death of Mance. Congratulations Jon?


– Will we see Ellaria and the Sand Snakes depose Doran Martell as the ruler of Dorne? Would anyone on male-centric Westeros take the region seriously if it was ruled by a Cabal of women?

– Will Arya learn how to change her face? Or is she merely at the House of Black and White to train how to be an assassin?

– Qyburn seems dirty, no matter how “loyal” Cersei says he is. Anyone else think she will regret giving him a seat on the Small Council?

Still seems like the show is just getting started, as we’ve yet to see any significant action (the horse chase with Brienne tonight notwithstanding), and most characters are just getting started on their paths this season (literally for some, i.e. Tyron, Varys, Littlefinger, Sansa, Brienne and Pod). Looking forward to episode 3!